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How to Support Struggling Austin Music Venues

Keep the Live Music Capital of the World alive, through livestreams, merch, and fundraising, and more

The crowd at Barbarella
The crowd at Barbarella

The novel coronavirus pandemic has not been easy on Austin’s music venues, which have been for the most part temporarily closed or forced to completely change how they operate since March. In April, Threadgills — the historical venue where music legend Janis Joplin got her start — permanently closed, along with others like Shady Grove, Barracuda, Plush, and the North Door, just to name a few.

The city is offering several ways to help support live music venues and musicians. Austin City Council agreed upon a $15 million relief fund to be distributed, with specific funds dedicated to live music venues (applications are open until January 11, 2021), as well as iconic restaurants, bars, and venues

At the same time, the federal government proposed the bipartisan provisionary Save Our Stages Act, one of several COVID-19 relief bills from the HEROES Act, urging the importance of providing relief for independent venues. If passed, this act would authorize $10 billion in grants to independent venues, producers, promoters and talent representatives. In September, Texas Congressman Roger Williams gathered a national press conference at longtime honky-tonk Broken Spoke to show his support of the bill, garnering 100 co-sponsors so far in the House of Representatives.

At this time, none of these relief have been distributed, so now, more than ever, Austin live music venues need help. Here, Eater rounds up just a few ways you can contribute to keeping these stages operating during these difficult times.

A line of people waiting to attend a show at Antone’s
A line of people waiting to attend a show at Antone’s
*Please note that while the fundraisers and Venmo accounts listed below have all been shared by the official social media pages or known representatives of respective venues and bars, Eater cannot guarantee that each venue/bar will use the money as they say they will.*

Multiple Venue Initiatives
The Banding Together GoFundMe from Red River Cultural District raises funds to support venue workers, musicians, live performance artists, creatives, production, service, and hospitality industry workers. Venues included Elysium, Barbarella, Mohawk, Swan Dive, and Stubb’s.

Antone’s Lounge
The 45-year-old downtown blues venue is accepting GoFundMe donations. All donations of $100 or more will receive an anniversary screenprinted poster.

Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden
The Rainey Street beer garden and venue is selling beer and food- to-go as well as merchandise.

Broken Spoke
Established in 1964, this South Lamar two-step dance hall is accepting GoFundMe donations for staff, plus there’s merch (DVD of its documentary, T-shirts, and books)

C-Boy’s Heart & Soul
Donate to the South Congress venue’s employee relief fund, look out for tickets for livestream shows, or purchase some merchandise.

Carousel Lounge
This North Austin circus-themed dive bar is accepting donations through the bartender GoFundMe.

Central Machine Works
The East Austin beer hall is selling a bunch of apparel, from baseball tees to bandanas, or order to-go pizza and IPAs.

Moogfest - 2017 SXSW Conference and Festivals
A South by Southwest performance by Pharmakon at Cheer Up Charlie’s in 2017
James Goulden Photography/Getty Images for SXSW

Cheer Up Charlie’s
The Red River LGBTQ bar and venue is raising money for the staff through GoFundMe.

Coconut Club
The rooftop club is accepting donations through GoFundMe. Its just-recently-opened cafe, Cuatro Gato, offers takeout arepas and coffee.

Donn’s Depot
The honky-tonk dive bar launched a subscription fund service via GoFundMe to sustain the Clarksville institution.

Empire Control Room
The Red River venue, through concert promoter Heard Presents and membership platform Withfriends, is offering a variety of memberships for direct support, offering access to future shows, merch, and other perks. Membership levels start at $50 per year (that’s about four dollars for a show every month).

Flamingo Cantina
The downtown venue focusing on reggae, world music, ska, Latin, and worldbeat music is accepting direct donations through GoFundMe, and keep an eye out for livestream shows,

Half Step
Donate directly to this Rainey Street cocktail bar and live music spot’s bartenders fund.

The closed patio at Historic Scoot Inn
The closed patio at Historic Scoot Inn
Historic Scoot Inn/Facebook

Historic Scoot Inn
Keep an eye out for livestream shows at the East Austin venue and bar.

Hole in the Wall
The campus dive bar is accepting bartender tips through Venmo at @HITW_STAFF.

Hotel Vegas and the Volstead
The East Sixth bars/venues are open for takeout food and drinks, plus there’s merchandise available. The businesses are also accepting tips for the staff through PayPal. Hotel Vegas is offering a virtual livestream experience, Hotel Free TV, where people can directly tip the bands or subscribe to the Patreon.

Indian Roller
The far south Austin bar and venue is accepting staff tips through Venmo at @Indianroller. Keep an eye out for virtual/livestream events.

Paramount Theatre
After 105 years of live theater, music, and countless film premieres, this downtown entertainment mecca offers a myriad of methods for donations: through its historic preservation initiatives; becoming an annual member; or even convincing your boss to reallocate funds to ensure that the local arts community is supported.

Parker Jazz Club
This downtown jazz club is offering livestreams of the house band through donations to the Texas Jazz Society, plus people can purchase apparel.

Radio Coffee & Beer
Order the South Austin cafe’s to-go coffee or cocktails, buy its wholesale house-roasted coffee beans, and add apparel and goods from the merchandise collection to your closet or kitchen.

A performance at Sahara Lounge
A performance at Sahara Lounge
Sahara Lounge/Facebook

Sahara Lounge
The East Austin club and venue is accepting tips through owner Eileen Bristol’s Venmo at @saharaeileen, and there are gift cards available too.

Stay Gold
The East Austin bar and venue is accepting tips for bartenders through Venmo at @staygoldaustin, and there’s a special T-shirt available for purchase too.

The Cactus Cafe
Coined as “Austin’s Living Room,” the Cactus Cafe, under the management of public radio station KUT, is home to many Austin performers getting their starts, like Brandi Carlisle, the Chicks (formerly the Dixie Chicks), and countless others. Donate directly to the cafe. There’s also the virtual sing-along for the holidays, and keep an eye out for livestream concerts.

The Continental Club
Look out for tickets to the legendary South Congress blues venue’s livestream concerts. In the meantime, purchase something from the wide-ranging merch shop, with locally designed T-shirts, trucker hats, vintage show posters, and patches, or opt to donate directly to the staff relief fund.

The Electric Church
The Govalle psychedelic venue and gallery is accepting donations through GoFundMe. People can also become donating members with perks and early music access starting at $5 per month, or purchase merchandise like T-shirts and cassette tapes with a 20 percent discount using the code “666.”

The Far Out Lounge
The South Congress venue is offering takeout food through its on-site truck Fowl Mouth.

The Little Longhorn Saloon
Purchase a ticket to virtual chicken shit bingo, donate directly to the dive bar’s GoFundMe, or buy some merchandise.

The Lost Well
Shop this East Side venue and bar’s merchandise or donate directly to the staff fund.

The Mean Eyed Cat
Support this West Fifth dive bar directly by purchasing merchandise.

Saxon Pub
Saxon Pub
Saxon Pub/Facebook

The Saxon Pub
One of Austin’s longest-running venues is accepting donations, as well as selling gift cards and copies of its documentary.

The Skylark Lounge
This MLK blues venue is accepting direct donations through Venmo at @Skylarkfund.

The White Horse
Purchase the East Sixth Street honky tonk’s merchandise, or donate directly to the staff fund via Venmo at @WhiteHorseATX.

The Vortex
Support the Cherrywood theater venue directly through donations, purchase access to previously recorded live performances, or buy to-go cocktails from on-site bar the Butterfly Bar.

Purchase a custom Valhalla T-shirt to support the Red River punk bar that also happens to have great takeout sandwiches.